– about the Mobile Cinema of the Macedonian Ministry of Education in the period 1944-1950 –
#1 The Mobile Cinemas are mostly linked with the pioneer days of the cinematography. In lack of permanent cinema theaters, the Mobile cinemas used to cruise through the smaller towns and settlements. In circus tents, in bars and restaurants, at open space, those were persistently introducing the new attraction – the moving pictures. Such cinemas, mainly from West and Midst Europe (Italy, France, Germany, Czechia…), started their “conquest” right after the invention of the “cinematograph”, which means – in 1895. Exactly that kind of Italian visited Bitola in 1897, and by our present knowledge, that was the first public film presentation in Macedonia. Little later, what means somewhere at the beginning of the XX century and further, a significant number of Macedonian individuals purchased mobile ciné-projectors and started to organize film projections in various places through the country. The mobile cinema of Milan Golubovski visited numerous settlements and towns in West Macedonia and Albania from 1907 until 1909. Later, at the end of 20’s and during the 30’s in XX century, many other mobile cinemas can be noted: those are the mobile cinemas of Kermaer Brothers from Czechia were cruising through the Ovčepole area; the circus with the mobile cinema attraction of Dimitar Stanoev – Fakir (called as The Miskedziya) from Delčevo, toured the Maleševo and Ovčepole areas; then, the mobile cinema of Ilija Dzonov from Bogdanci toured the Povardarie and Pelagonia areas and reached Ohrid. Along the entertaining character of those cinemas, one more fact should be emphasized – the mobile cinemas, during the development periods of cinematography, also had propaganda and educational role. Within all of the war parties involved in the Balkan Wars, and in both World Wars, there were mobile cinemas engaged both in entertaining and propaganda purposes within the army and civil population. The health education was also practiced through this medium, as it was the case with the Hygiene Institute from Skopje, that started with this kind of work in 1922, with its own mobile cinema. The goal of this institution was, through the projections of the educational films on health issues as primary health prevention and medical awareness, to educate the population of Macedonia in most of the widespread diseases as typhus, malaria, tuberculosis, etc.
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After Second World War, in the federative units of the new Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (later: the Federative People’s Republic of Yugoslavia) a wide travelling network of mobile cinemas is being established, with purpose to entertain, agitate and educate the general population (with various kinds of means: health education, cultural enlightenment, sport training, competition in various areas of the social life, etc.). Macedonia, of course, wasn’t any exception from this rule. So, through the pages of the Macedonian press we can focus on the intensive work of the mobile cinemas organized by many various organizations and institutions: Chief Direction of the Macedonian Railways, Chief Board of Macedonian Red Cross, People’s Front City Council of Skopje, Ministry of Education of People’s Republic of Macedonia (further in the text – in its original initials: NRM; translator’s note), Hygiene Institute in Skopje, Central Committee of People’s Youth of Macedonia, etc.
In this text, we’re going to focus on the mobile cinema of the Ministry of Education of People’s Republic of Macedonia because of the following reasons: it’s obvious that (by the archived documentation), besides the ASNOM’s (ASNOM/ASPLM – Antifascist Parliament of the People’s Liberation of Macedonia, translator’s note) Trustee Committee for Trade and Supplies, in which frames functioned the Cinematography Department, and also, besides FIDIMA (Film Direction of Macedonia), the Cinematography Committee of NRM, and the Ministry of Education of NRM, had a most significant role in the profiling of the Macedonian cinematographic ambient; the activities of this Ministry’s mobile cinema is also registered in the film documentary THROUGH PIRIN MACEDONIA (NIZ PIRINSKA MAKEDONIJA, 1948) by the film director Trajche Popov; and finally, judging by the press releases of that period, this mobile cinema, travelling along and together with this Ministry’s mobile library, played a significant role within the “analphabet” campaign and in the numerous activities for population’s general education.
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The Ministry of Education overtook the work-field of the ASNOM’s Trustee Committee for Education. Namely, with a Law brought at the Third Convention of ASNOM, on April 16, 1945, during the activity of the First Macedonian Government, the Ministry of Education is being established, and for Minister, Nikola Minchev was appointed (because of the period that this text analyses, we’ll give the next information also: with the Decision by the ASNOM Presidium from August 6, 1944, Prof. Epaminonda Pop-Andonov is named for a Trustee for Education; later. with the Decision of the People’s Parliament of Macedonia of April 16, 1945 – for the First Minister for Education is named Nikola Minchev. After that, by the Decision of the People’s Parliament Presidium on June 2, 1947, for the Minister of Education is named Kiro Hadzi Vasilev, and finally, with the following Decision of the People’s Parliament on November 19, 1947, the new Minister of Education became Dimche Mire)(1). At the very start, the activities within this Ministry were organized through 4 Departments and their sub-departments: General sub-department, Schooling sub-department, Sub-department for General Population’s Education and Sub-department for Culture and Art. It’s important to note that within the frames of this Ministry, the Press, Radio and Film Department was also active, which activity interlaced with the work of the Sub-department for General Population’s Education and the Sub-department for Culture and Art. Of course, due time, this organizational scheme suffered many changes, reforms and improvements. With the Decision No. 5/6 on January 1, 1950 (Official Newspaper of NRM, No. 2/51) the Ministry of Education was canceled, and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture was installed instead.
Further in this text, I’ll try to focus (with help of the available documentation) – briefly – on the most significant activities realized by the Ministry of Education at the field of cinematography. The tasks given to this Ministry were the following: spreading the cinema-network facilities through the country with equipping the educational institutions with 16mm ciné-projectors, training the cinema operators for those, investments in cinematography, etc., up to enterprising numerous campaigns by this cinema means. In that context, I focus on the “analphabet” campaign, and on the “general population education” campaign.
At the beginning of 1947, the Ministry of Education, in its annual report for 1946, among the other issues, includes the analyses about the cinema work in that year: until now, in Macedonia exist 19 permanent cinema-halls, and during 1946, there were 8.558 cinema projections with 1.825.884 visitors. 194 soviet films were shown, 54 domestic (journals and such) and 109 films from other national cinematographies. The Ministry of Education has its own mobile cinema, which realized 83 projections with 22.392 visitors. In this context, we’ll note the tasks that this Ministry realized in 1947 – the distributing of the Book of Regulations for Cinema Management prepared by the Cinematography Committee by the FNRJ Government (translated in Macedonian) and the distributing of the “Manual for maintaining the order and the hygiene in the cinemas”; and also, this Ministry enterprised an inspection upon all existing (permanent and mobile) cinemas in the country(2). A quite interesting information can be found in the daily newspaper “Nova Makedonija” from February 5, 1947 (page 2), in which is noted that the Ministry of Education gave a donation (a ciné-projector) to the Culture Dome in Debar, which equipping was finishing at the time, “… and because – soon – the electric energy will be installed in the town, the people of Debar are happy that they will be in possibility to go to the movies”. One of the questions now, is: where are from, these 35mm ciné-projectors? Obviously, at first, some kind of rearrangement was enterprised – among the already existing cinema facilities – from the ones with more ciné-projectors, to the ones with a lack of those. So, in that way, in the documentation we consulted, we found the written correspondence of this Ministry with the People’s Councils of Tetovo and Kriva Palanka for transferring a ciné-projector from Tetovo to Kriva Palanka(3). And what concerns the 16mm ciné-projectors, at the beginning – they were acquired as some kinds of grants and donations, so – in the report of this Ministry for 1946 – stands: “As a donation from Slovenia to our People’s Republic, the Ministry received 10 ciné-projectors for 16mm mute films. These ciné-projectors are already distributed in ten separate high schools through the Republic”(4). Another interesting aspect can be noted if one takes a look onto the ambitious five-year plan (1947-1951), which, for the cinema development, suggests the Press, Radio and Film Department to be in charge, and after that, it becomes a part of the whole “Five-year Development Program” of the Ministry of Education. In the period since 1947 until 1951, according by the Press, Radio and Film Department, what’s necessary, is: “to require cinema equipment for 70 of the larger central towns and settlements, from which – 20 are to be with their own independent electric supplies (with aggregates) for the settlements that aren’t electrified or won’t be within this five-year period; 15 district educational departments to be acquired with the ciné-projectors for 16mm film; the elementary and high schools to be equipped with 20 ciné-projectors for 16mm. (mute) film for educational purposes; 10 high and basic schools to be equipped with projectors for educational purposes; 70 ciné-operators and 70 managers to be trained by special courses for those cinemas”(5). Of course, all this planned with the required annual dynamics. For fulfilling this five-year planned goals, the Ministry of Education makes the five-year investment plan in which they anticipate: “… for the cinematography purposes in this period, 82.000 Dinars are supposed to be needed, from which, 59.000 Dinars for construction works, and 23.000 Dinars for equipment”(6). In the details on this investment plan notes the necessity that for the People’s Company for Film Distribution (which, at that moment was placed in a private building in the Skopje town’s center) should be built a new building with the special bunker for film-storing and safe-keeping, as well as the building of the laboratory for developing of the films and a studio for making films, because “the conditions for producing films are available at the moment. Basically, at the beginning, the producing of monthly journals, short cultural and propaganda films should be enterprised, and later, the producing of documentary and artistic and feature films would follow”(7). What concerns “the cinéfication”, with this five-year plan, the building and equipping of 39 ciné-halls are being anticipated. That the Ministry of Education intensively and thoroughly followed and encouraged the cinematography activities country wide, clearly speaks the fact that in 1948, this Ministry did reward few artists – culture-activist and film-workers from People’s Republic of Macedonia, for their especial contributions within their fields of work and interests – among which is Kole Čašule, the one who did the “script and the editing of the propaganda film TO ELECTIONS FOR NEW VICTORIES (NA IZBORI ZA NOVI POBEDI)”(8).
It’s understandable that this engagement of the Ministry of Education at the field of cinema development within the country should be observed through the context of the general engagement in the society enterprises in whole – of the new Government, of course, as for instance, the activities of the Cinematography Department, the Ministry of Trade and Supplies, the Cinematography Committee, etc.), but we’re going to leave that kind of analyses for some other occasion. In this moment, the pointing at this Ministry’s other engagements are only an introduction at the detecting of this Ministry’s mobile cinema activities.